Articles 324 to 329 in Part XV of the Constitution make the following provisions with regard to the electoral system in our country:
The Constitution (Article 324) provides for an independent Election Commission in order to ensure free and fair elections in the country. The power of supertendence, direction and conduct of elections to the Parliament, the state legislatures, the office of the President and the office of the Vice-President is vested in the Commission. At present, the commission consists of a chief election commissioner and two election commissioners .
There is to be only one general electoral roll for every territorial constituency for election to the Parliament and the state legislatures. Thus, the Constitution has abolished the system of communal representation and separate electorates which led to the partition of the country.
No person is to be ineligible for inclusion in the electoral roll on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex or any of them. Further, no person can claim to be included in any special electoral roll for any constituency on grounds only of religion, race, caste or sex or any of them. Thus, the Constitution has accorded equality to every citizen in the matter of electoral franchise.
The elections to the Lok Sabha and the state assemblies are to be on the basis of adult franchise. Thus, every person who is a citizen of India and who is 18years of age, is entitled to vote at the election provided he is not disqualified under the provisions of the Constitution or any law made by the appropriate legislature (Parliament or state legislature) on the ground of non-residence, unsound mind, crime or corrupt or illegal practice.
Parliament may make provision with respect to all matters relating to elections to the Parliament and the state legislatures including the preparation of electoral rolls, the delimitation of constituencies and all other matters necessary for securing their due constitution.
The state legislatures can also make provision with respect to all matters relating to elections to the state legislatures including the preparation of electoral rolls and all other matters necessary for securing their due constitution. But, they can make provision for only those matters which are not covered by the Parliament. In other words, they can only supplement the parliamentary law and cannot override it.
The Constitution declares that the validity of any law relating to the delimitation of constituencies or the allotment of seats to such constituencies cannot be questioned in any court. Consequently, the orders issued by the Delimitation Commission become final and cannot be challenged in any court.
The Constitution lays down that no election to the Parliament or the state legislature is to be questioned except by an election petition presented to such authority and in such manner as provided by the appropriate legislature. Since 1966, the election petitions are triable by high courts alone. But, the appellate jurisdiction lies with the Supreme Court alone.
Article 323 B empowers the appropriate legislature (Parliament or state legislature) to establish a tribunal for the adjudication of election disputes. It also provides for the exclusion of the jurisdiction of all courts (except the special leave appeal jurisdiction of the Supreme Court) in such disputes. So far, no such tribunal has been established. It must be noted here that in Chandra Kumar case(1997), the Supreme Court declared this provision as unconstitutional. Consequently, if at any time an election tribunal is established, an appeal from its decision lies to the high court.